For a happy & healthy fast...

By Gul Nasreen
Tue, 05, 19

With long fasting hours and the intense heat of the summer, it is essential to take extra precautions to remain healthy and hydrated throughout the month. You! takes a look...


With long fasting hours and the intense heat of the summer, it is essential to take extra precautions to remain healthy and hydrated throughout the month. You! takes a look...

With long fasting hours and intense heat of the summer, there is a high chance of dehydration, especially in people with diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure and etc. If fasting is done in a healthy manner, there is enough evidence to suggest that it has a positive effect on your health. By avoiding dehydration and heat effects through simple healthy habits, one can reap the benefits of good health, which include weight loss and detoxification of your body.

Although it is also strongly advised that serious patients consult their doctors beforehand since medical advice varies with every individual - depending on the type condition, severity and medication. Dehydration can cause undesirable side effects on people with chronic diseases such as constipation, headache, dizziness, tiredness and dry skin. In severe cases of dehydration, you might have much more serious complications like kidney problems and seizures. Keeping this in mind, it is very important for people in Ramazan to take extra precautions to ensure they remain healthy and hydrated throughout the month.

Don’t skip sehri: Skipping sehri and lack of sleep are major contributors that can cause heat stress. Some people eat heavy dinners and skip pre-dawn meal, which puts them at a higher risk of heat stress. This meal is the body’s primary source of energy during a Ramazan day, which should be rich in slowly absorbed carbohydrates. It makes fasting more comfortable and tolerable. It also helps prevent nausea and headaches during the fasting hours by regulating the level of sugar in the blood and reduces thirst during the day. The meal should contain all the nutrients needed by the body (proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals) and have easily digestible foods so that it doesn’t cause any stomach discomfort. In extreme temperatures, doctors advise that one should add fresh fruits in their diet and consume sehri meal as late as possible.

Avoid overindulgence: Overindulgence during iftar and sehri - consuming oily and spicy foods, desserts and sugar-laden foods - cannot only lead to weight gain but also health complications. Overindulgence can increase the body temperature during fasting hours and can take toll on the body. Avoid salty foods such as pickles, olives, salted nuts and canned food. Heavy desserts, fatty and fried foods, and spicy foods increase thirst and can cause dehydration during fasting hours. However, light sweets such as puddings or rice pudding can be consumed during sehri as it gives a feeling of fullness. It provides the body with energy and sugar which is needed, thus preventing you from feeling tired during the day. Remember that moderation is the key because overeating will only have you feeling more fatigued.

Drink the right fluids: Since your body will be fasting, you have to find ways to compensate for the water loss. Try to drink eight glasses of water during non-fasting hours which is between iftar and sehri. And while you may be tempted to drink large quantities of water all at once, don’t do that! Instead drink water in between your meal.

Unlike water, other drinks contain a lot of sugar and can result in consuming extra calories. Also avoid soft drinks as drinking too much of them will fill up your stomach and may delay your digestion process resulting in a lot of problems including gas, bloating, stomach pain, and weight gain. Avoid consuming drinks with caffeine such as coffee, tea etc, as caffeine’s diuretic properties can dehydrate an already parched body. Don’t drink too much tea or avoid it completely as it increases salt excretion in the urine, which is needed for the body during fasting.

Limit your time outdoors during peak hours: Avoid direct exposure to the sun, especially between 12pm to 4pm because you may end up losing essential fluid by sweating it out. Try to stay in the shade, cool places and wear hats wherever needed. Fasting can often make you feel tired and fatigued, so make sure to relax and avoid any strenuous activity during fasting hours.

Break your fast with dates and patience: During iftar, break your fast with dates and fresh juice instead of highly sweetened packaged or instant juices. Breaking your fast with dates helps prevent overeating since dates provide instant energy and make you feel full. However, diabetics should consult their doctors whether they can consume dates or not. If you like drinking iced water to break your fast, avoid it. It does not replenish your thirst but can cause your blood vessels to contract and cause indigestion. It is best if you consume water at room temperature or slightly cold, if you prefer.

When it comes to iftar, it is recommended that you eat your food after your prayers, as this will help you make smart food choices. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to realise that food has been consumed and it then sends signals to the rest of the body. Fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, lettuce, celery, radishes, tomatoes, cauliflower, and watermelon contain 90 per cent water, and are an excellent refreshing snack to have at your iftar spread.